Based on the Steven Bochco prime-time drama of big-money legal battles and yuppie ennui, L.A. Law: The Computer Game casts players as one of three up-and-coming attorneys: Jonathan Rollins (Blair Underwood), Abbey Perkins (Michele Greene), or Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits). The challenge is to show their character worthy of prestige in both the courtrooms and cocktail parties of the rich and famous, and the reward is a full partnership in the esteemed firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak. To prove their prosecutorial prowess, players will point-and-click through a number of intriguing legal episodes, brought to life with full-screen stills taken directly from the television series.
L.A. Law: The Computer Game casts the player as one of three characters from the American television show that aired from 1986 - 1994: attorneys Jonathan Rollins, Abbey Perkins, or Victor Sifuentes.
The player's goal is to show that his chosen character is worthy of a full partnership in the law firm. The player will point and click through a number of different choices, from collecting information and evidence to decisions about his opening statement. As the player collects useful information and advice it is added to a case file that can be referred to throughout the game.
The game is separated into different cases, starting from "The Wrathful Race" case, where the player must prove his client's innocence in a car accident. There is limited time to prepare each case before taking it into court and every choice takes time in the game, so the player must be well prepared.
When the player feels he is ready to go to trial, he can take the case to court. During the courtroom sequence there are many different choices to be made such as which witnesses to question, when to make objections, requests for recess, etc., and the final judgement can change depending on how good the player's arguments or choices in pre-trial preparation were. Winning every case gains the player senior partnership in the L. A. Law firm.
A shallow courtroom game based on blockbuster TV series of the same name, L.A. Law is an ambitious design that is ultimately flawed due to logic inconsistencies and limited interaction.
First, some background information for those who are not familiar with the TV original: as an associate working for a large L.A. law firm, you must take on assignments from senior partners. Choose to play as either Jonathan, Abby, or Victor, all of whom are rising stars in the TV show. Each time you defend a client successfully in court, you are given a new assignment and a chance at being promoted. The game ends when you climb to the highest rank in the firm and elicit congratulations from the founding partners.
The game is divided into several cases, starting with "The Wrathful Race," in which you must prove your client's innocence in a car crash. You have a limited time to prepare each case before being ushered into court, and every action takes time in the game so you must carefully decide what to do. The problem is, sometimes that is not very logical. In the first case, for example, you must visit the opposing counsel to obtain the medical examiner's report and several witnesses' statements. Why you can't be provided with these from your own boss is beyond me. This extreme linearity also defeats the purposes of many actions in the game. For instance, you can use the library to research past cases, in hopes of finding legal techniques and information that pertain to your own case. The problem is: whether or not you come up with something useful is determined arbitrarily by the designers. In some cases, you can search all you want and never turn up a clue, while in others, doing research is the only way to proceed. The bottom line is that you will do research only when you think you are stuck, not because you think it makes sense-- something a real lawyer would probably never do :-) You also can ask various senior partners in the firm for advice, which are generally very valuable and tell you exactly what to do next. These take time, however, so you must use this "hint" function sparingly.
When you feel you are prepared to go to trial, you can go to court any time you want. The courtroom sequence is much better than pre-trial, since there are several actions you can take, and the final judgement can vary depending on how good your arguments or pre-trial preparation is. You can, for example, raise objections to the opposing counsel's questions, move for a mistrial, or even request continuance from the judge if you feel you need more preparation (this is hardly granted). Although your questions to the witnesses and their responses are "canned," it is still fun to watch their reaction and effects on the opposing lawyers.
All in all, L.A. Law is a decent game that could be so much more, had the designers spend more time with giving the player more freedom of action, and make the cases more logically consistent. As it stands, L.A. Law might appeal to fans of the series, but is mildly entertaining at best for everyone else.
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